Bless and Curse: Why Not Both? (Part 1)

Hello and welcome to a very special Obscure Studies article. Today, I introduce you to a new series in collaboration with Jeff, from the Youtube channel Winging It, where we take some Bless and Curse focused decks through The Path to Carcosa campaign. Before I get into the decks and the campaign itself, let’s talk a little about what this series is about. Of note, the decks in this series were constructed only with cards up until The Innsmouth Conspiracy expansion.

The purpose of this series is to highlight the power of decks that focus on the new tokens introduced in The Innsmouth Conspiracy cycle. We’ve had the whole cycle for a little while now, which has given players enough time to dive into the bless/curse mechanic. Many individual cards have been widely adopted by the community, such as Faustian Bargain and Promise of Power. Despite that, there remains some skepticism about the effectiveness of fully dedicated bless and curse decks. The ones we’re taking through this campaign are exactly that and I’ll go into further detail below. Hopefully they can provide some insights to how this strategy can work. At the very least, we hope you’ll get some entertainment from the videos and articles we present!

This first article will introduce our starting decks, discussing card choices, including investigators. The first scenario playthrough can be found at the end of the article along with some analysis on our performance. The next articles will talk a bit about how we choose our upgrades. along with the scenario played using those augmented decks.

Dexter Drake – Harnessing the power

Armageddon by Imad Awan

First, let’s talk about why I chose Dexter for this series. My main objective was to showcase the power of the cursed spell suite especially in combination with Paradoxical Covenant. The latter has been somewhat undervalued by the community and not without some reason. I put out an article a while back that, in part, analyzed the chances of activating paradoxical covenant. If you don’t want to click that link and read it right now, the summary is: it’s not great by itself. Fortunately, as The Magician, Dexter has a few tricks up his sleeve from both the Mystic and Rogue card pool that help him take advantage of the Covenant. Without further ado, let’s see the deck and jump into specific card choices and interactions!

Dexter Drake deck (level 0)

There’s a lot of cards in this deck that form a good, generic Dexter shell. Scroll of Secrets for some filtered card draw, David Renfield to generate resources and Sword Cane to deal with enemies without spending spell charges. All of these work great with Dexter’s ability, either coming down at instant speed or poofing away to make room for new assets. Other Mystic staples such as Ward of Protection and Holy Rosary smooth out the deck. Olive McBride is a commonly seen Mystic card that boosts our ability to draw curse tokens when we need to. Finally, Arcane Research and Delve Too Deep ramp up how much experience we can get, which is not strictly necessary, but will be helpful to get up and running sooner in the campaign.

Where this deck gets more unique is in the way we want to harness the power of curse tokens with a little help from bless. Tempt Fate is the most straightforward token generator in the deck getting help from cursed staples Promise of Power and Faustian Bargain. Our main payoffs at level 0 are two copies of Armageddon and Eye of Chaos to help us do the usual Mystic thing, potentially augmented by curse tokens. We also have one copy of Shroud of Shadows to allow for some action compression when we need to evade but also potentially some enemy manipulation. These assets are pretty expensive, but Dexter’s ability means we can get them out a little cheaper if we have another asset to sacrifice.

While the level 0 deck doesn’t show the full power of a full curse build, with some XP we can bring in a lot of power. The most obvious upgrades are Armageddon (4), Eye of Chaos (4), and Shroud of Shadows (4). These spells give us a boost that can counteract one curse drawn but also reward us for drawing even more curses during the test. Unfortunately curses make it hard to pass the test, but Paradoxical Covenant can help us circumvent this. While Olive can help raise the chances of triggering this card, Favor of the Sun can provide 3 free triggers of the Covenant provided we draw the curse first.

Dipping into higher level Rogue cards, we get one more powerful payoff in Eye of the Djinn. We also get another dual token generator in Priest of Two Faiths, who works very well with Dexter’s ability. Ríastrad can provide some high curse generation while also packing a punch on enemies. Last but not least, Skeptic can work as a makeshift Paradoxical Covenant if we’re expecting to draw some big curse chains with Olive.

Minh Thi Phan – Manipulating the tokens

Cryptic Grimoire by Alexandr Elichev

Next, let’s talk about why Jeff chose to play Minh. Dexter was an investigator with access to two classes that each interacted with both tokens. Minh is an investigator with access to two classes that focus almost entirely on their own token. As such, she can generate and benefit from both, provided she or Dexter draw the appropriate cards. Minh’s access to Seeker cards and her general playstyle lend themselves to a draw-heavy deck, allowing her to see both her token generation and payoff cards. There’s also a number of skills in both classes that interact with the Innsmouth tokens, which we’ll talk about below. But first, here’s the level 0 deck for The Assistant:

Minh Thi Phan deck (level 0)

On to card choices, we have a somewhat similar situation to Dexter. At level 0, our main token generation is Keep Faith and Deep Knowledge alongside the usual Tempt Fate. Payoffs are also scarce, but its worth pointing out that Minh will be looking to translate the Cryptic Grimoire sooner rather than later. The rest of the deck is pretty standard for Minh with the Fine Clothes as tech for a certain scenario in Path to Carcosa.

Also similarly to Dexter, Minh gets a lot more token play at higher levels. We start off with what might be the best simultaneous curse and bless generation in Spirit of Humanity. Not too far behind is the extremely versatile Ancient Covenant which can turn blesses into basically auto-successes and depending on the token chain, can even act as another Paradoxical Covenant for Dexter. Signum Crucis and Unrelenting are both skills that play off bless tokens and Minh can make them even better with her additional icon. Harmony Restored is another consideration since it can reset the bag and allow curse generators to be played more freely.

We’ll also see more Seeker curse generation with Stirring Up Trouble which can add a wide range of quantity of curses to the bag. Minh can get a lot of mileage out of Fey, especially paired with Favor of the Moon. As I mentioned above, an upgraded version of Cryptic Grimoire will be showing up, but the exact version will remain a mystery, at least for now.

We’ll also be seeing some powerful cards not strictly related to bless and curse make an appearance in Minh’s deck. Ancestral Knowledge is a powerhouse for her, guaranteeing skills for her ability. Grisly Totem is also another common upgrade for the assistant and will be useful paired with the skills from Ancestral Knowledge.

Curtain Call – We’re playing bless/curse decks, I swear

Scenario 1 – Curtain Call

Hopefully you’ve watched our gameplay above, but if you didn’t, a good summary of it is: both decks performed like generic versions with some quirks due to the nature of bless and curse cards. Due to the lower volume of token generation at level 0, the power of the cursed spells didn’t show up as much. Still, two very powerful investigators were able to pull off a pretty good result in Curtain Call. Maybe this will convince you that the baseline for these decks is still pretty good. If not, stay tuned as we unlock the power of bless and curse in future installments!

We got a pretty good XP haul from Curtain Call, with 9 for each investigator. In the next installment, I’ll talk about what upgrades we chose heading into The Last King. If you’ve played this one, you’ll know it’s a bit wacky, so our upgrades may reflect this a bit.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed today’s fusion of visual and written content. There’s more to come as we make our way to Dim Carcosa. Make sure to check out Winging It on YouTube and subscribe to the channel to see some awesome Arkham Horror gameplay, among other things. Otherwise, feel free to send any comments, thoughts or concerns my way through Facebook, Twitter, Discord, or Nightgaunt Mail. See you next time!

 

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